Short Poem Saturday – Second Fig – Millay

A Saturday morning spent playing around with photo collages and a cheeky Edna St. Vincent Millay epigram is time well spent, I say!

Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the collage, and perhaps be inspired by these three links:

1) Ms. Chiara Ricci-Tam, my friend and collaborator in science as well as art, has started her own WordPress Blog! I have been like a broken record over the last two years telling her that the folks on WP are some of the best there are, and that I have made new friends and connected with amazing artists, authors, and poets here. Now she’s here too –  and so, if you don’t mind, click on over to her brand new site Chiaroscurale and say hello!

2) Wave Erasure Books – a vibrant conversation on Twitter, started by Beat Company, reminded me of this awesome site and the one below. You (or the program if you click “random poem”) can erase words from classic texts to create something entirely new. You can also submit your erasure creations to their website to be added to the online collection.

3) Howl your work – this program will take any line you provide and “Howl with it.” I don’t think there is any other way to explain other than to show the results. I put today’s epigram into the algorithm, and this is what popped out:

safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
America upon safe roof street after we’re Passaic, caresses
rocking Long suicide, singing Spaniard sanity radio rose fate were
returning hands to twelve gas a soul trucks governments! Bridge a not
demonic Chinatown the together of up Moloch who entered my soul early!
Moloch in whom Light streaming out of the actual pingpong of the moon
& their hands & a hung jury, and harlequin speech of suicide,
demanding instantaneous

Behold the power of random chance, computer algorithms, and Howl by Alan Ginsberg!

Short Poem Saturday – A Politician – Cummings

APolitician_CummingsE.E. Cummings’ outspoken and often contrarian political views got him into trouble on several occasions during his life – he was even accused of being a spy in France during WWI. His love poetry has had enduring popular appeal – I personally have been to two weddings where his poem [I carry your heart] has been read – but his satirical and political poetry, while perhaps lesser known, make up another major theme in his work. This epigram is a small salty taste of it – and no matter your political persuasion, it is perhaps a feeling we have all had at one point! Drawing (ink on paper) and composition by me. Have a great weekend!

Old Poem Saturday – Safe Upon the Solid Rock – Millay

ESVMepigramEveryone else will be doing love poems today, so I thought I would do something else. Plus, we’ve been spending so much time with one of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s long poems, “Moriturus,” that I thought it would be a good change of pace to throw in one of her shortest – the sharp-edged epigram “Safe Upon the Solid Rock.” Photograph and composition by me. Have a great weekend and may you have only a little snow to shovel!

Old Poem Saturday – Epigram (and Haiku) by Pound

Old Poem Saturday - Epigram by Pound

Often credited as the “first fully realized haiku in English” (to quote Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years by Kacian, Rowland, and Burns), “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound celebrated its 100-year publication anniversary last year (2013). It was not the first haiku written originally in English (that title goes to a haiku written in 1902 by Noguchi Yonejirô,1875-1947) and it broke a number of the “rules” of haiku, generating some debate about what could constitute a haiku in English. But it captures a moment in time that rings true and works as a haiku or an epigram still today, 100 years later. Have a great weekend!

Old Poem Saturday – Epigram by Frost

Old Poem Saturday - Epigram by Frost

“The Span of Life” by Robert Frost (1874-1963). Photograph by Ms. Dawn Wenrich of Lake Piru, California  – visit her website and linger on the beautiful photography. Composition by me. I hope everyone is enjoying the first weekend of fall (although it doesn’t feel like fall yet)!

Old Poem Saturday – Epigram by Hulme

Old Poem Saturday - Epigram by Hulme

Revisiting the very first epigram I ever put up on the site – “Image” by T.E. Hulme (1883-1917). Photographs by me, taken from the viewing gallery of The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Short Poems: Mini, micro, and nano?

So far, I have illustrated a number of epigrams (traditionally a two line poem with title) and one haiku (traditionally a three line poem with a set number of syllables and a title), but as a person who studies microscopic things for a living, I was curious to see how minimal poetry could go. Without further ado, I present the monostich:

Thecathedralis“The Cathedral is” by John Ashbery (b. 1927), photographs (of the Pooh Stump at Harvard) and composition by me.


“Coward” by A.R. Ammons (1926-2001), photograph and composition by me.  A monostich is a single line poem with or without a title. It is fascinating to think of what constitutes a “minimal set” of characteristics or requirements for a poem – does a single line suffice? How many words to we need? Can symbols replace words? Terry Ehret used an Egyptian hieroglyph as the title of one of her prose-poems:

papyrus_cropExcerpt from [Papyrus] by Terry Ehret, from Lost Bodies. Here the title is replaced by a symbol and begins her prose-poem that interprets it.  Can a title with a symbol be a poem?

Poem (if you will), drawing of the international symbol for “caustic chemical” (ink on paper), by me.  Do extremely short poems live at the intersection of poetry and art?

Old Poem Saturday – Epigram by Harrington

oftreasoncrop copyFor the last Saturday in May, I am going early 17th-century-old poetry. The photograph was taken at the Houston Butterfly Center by Dr. Rachelle Trial – friend, colleague, photographer, and aspiring science writer – find her here and here. Epigram by Sir John Harrington, composition by me. Have a great weekend!